G.R. No. 94571.
April 22, 1991
The 1990 budget consists of P98.4 Billion in automatic appropriation (with P86.8 Billion for debt service) and P155.3 Billion appropriated under RA 6831, otherwise known as the General Approriations Act, or a total of P233.5 Billion, while the appropriations for the DECS amount to P27,017,813,000.00.
The said automatic appropriation for debt service is authorized by PD No. 18, entitled “ Amending Certain Provisions of Republic Act Numbered Four Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty, as Amended (Re: Foreign Borrowing Act), “by PD No. 1177, entitled “Revising the Budget Process in Order to Institutionalize the Budgetary Innovations of the New Society,” and by PD No.1967, entitled “An Act Strengthening the Guarantee and Payment Positions of the Republic of the Philippines on its Contingent Liabilities Arising out of Relent and Guaranteed Loans by Appropriating Funds For The Purpose.”
The petitioners were questioning the constitutionality of the automatic appropriation for debt service, it being higher than the budget for education, therefore it is against Section 5(5), Article XIV of the Constitution which mandates to “assign the highest budgetary priority to education.”
Whether or not the automatic appropriation for debt service is unconstitutional; it being higher than the budget for education.
No. While it is true that under Section 5(5), Article XIV of the Constitution Congress is mandated to “assign the highest budgetary priority to education,” it does not thereby follow that the hands of Congress are so hamstrung as to deprive it the power to respond to the imperatives of the national interest and for the attainment of other state policies or objectives.
Congress is certainly not without any power, guided only by its good judgment, to provide an appropriation, that can reasonably service our enormous debt…It is not only a matter of honor and to protect the credit standing of the country. More especially, the very survival of our economy is at stake. Thus, if in the process Congress appropriated an amount for debt service bigger than the share allocated to education, the Court finds and so holds that said appropriation cannot be thereby assailed as unconstitutional